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These stories were written by high school students participating in NEPM's Media Lab, in partnership with MassLive.

The creative origins of Fire House Hot Dogs' menu

This is a meatball sub, one of Fire House Hot Dogs’ many menu items.
Jomar Rodriguez
NEPM's Media Lab
This is a meatball sub, one of Fire House Hot Dogs’ many menu items.

This story was written by a high school student participating at NEPM's Media Lab Summer '23 cohort, in partnership with MassLive.

Fire House Hot Dogs is most famously known for their variety of different hot dogs and toppings heavily inspired by baseball and Latino culture.

With nicknames like “The Big Sloppy” and the “Don’t Judge Me Dog” I felt compelled to learn more by interviewing the owners about the history of their menu and their thought process when creating a menu.

“The food items are just a play on sports,” said Eric Maldonado, owner of Fire House Hot Dogs with his wife, Johanna. “We have the ‘Don’t Judge Me’ named after Aaron Judge, ‘The Big Sloppy’ named after David Ortiz, and the ‘Boricua Dog’ is named after Puerto Rico.”

When asked about their favorite nickname, Johanna noted her favorite is the Big Sloppy, as a big fan of David Ortiz. The Big Sloppy is a hot dog that has chili, cheese, jalapeños, onions, relish, mustard, ketchup, and potato chip sticks. It’s clear to see why it’s a favorite and worthy of being named after “Big Papi.”

But as Eric explained, the truck’s menu includes much more than just hot dogs and has gone through many changes over the years.

“Yeah, it was more just practicing with the menu. It started off with just hot dogs, but we were able to make nachos, and then little by little we're just seeing what we could add on without having to fry or without needing to grill. Then we got the grill and started making the menu more expansive.”

“We just were trying to think on how we could expand and incorporate new items,” Johanna added. “We started with a very small cart so we could basically do hot dogs, kielbasa and that was pretty much it. Then as we grew and expanded to bigger food trucks we were able to expand that menu… we are always trying to expand our menu and trying to think what we could make with the space that we have.”

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